Donating vacation time is the new baby shower gift

National

There is a new way employees are rallying around their expecting co-workers by helping them take maternity leave.

It’s a huge challenge facing so many working mothers and fathers to be.

“I found out I was pregnant maybe two weeks after I had started with the company,” Angela Hughes, a mom, said.

Hughes planned to bond with her new baby with banked vacation days. When daughter Bella arrived two months early, it wasn’t enough.

Angela’s boss and co-workers taking matters into their own hands. Instead of buying items for her off a registry, they gifted their relatively new co-worker their own time off.

“It was the right thing to do and I had the time and I wanted to give her what I could. If it made life a little simpler for her, then why wouldn’t I do that?” Kerry Norbury, Hughes’ former boss, said.

Their generosity allowed Hughes to take eight weeks of paid maternity leave. Nearly all of it was donated.

“I was extremely humbled and I knew that it was a total blessing. I had been completely stressed out and it had been all I could talk about leading up to the delivery of this baby,” Hughes said.

The U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the only countries without a paid family leave policy.

Many new parents can take 12 weeks off, but just 15 percent will get paid while they bond with their new baby.

Paid family leave is more common for people working in finance, information and professional services, according to a report by Pew Research Center.

“There are lots of employers who have adopted these policies because they know it attracts talent. It keeps their people,” Julie Kashen, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, said.

This leaves many working parents looking for alternatives like Taylor and Ross who we met last year.

“I left work, going to a doctor’s appointment, and didn’t come back for three months,” Taylor Richendrfer said.

The couple turned to crowdfunding when they learned their son Aiden would arrive nine weeks early.

“How did you make the decision, ultimately, to crowdfund the maternity leave?” Rebecca Jarvis said.

“We were doing everything the way that they tell you to. We were saving money. We both had good jobs. You know, we did it all the right way. But clearly, that wasn’t the plan,” Richendrfer said.

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